The New Murder Mystery Night
Sherlock Holmes Needs Your Help
Since the 1800s, the murder mystery genre has puzzled and intrigued readers and writers worldwide. It is rumored that a single intriguing case, the murder at the road house, inspired the explosion of the genre, producing dozens of prolific authors and thousands of famous novels and stories. Then, beginning in the 1930s, a new approach to the murder mystery came in the form of The Jury Box—a game where a group of 'jurors' were given a murder scenario and a collection of evidence, then tasked with determining the guilt of a suspected party. Many similar games would follow, taking various forms over the years, from classic board games to dinner party boxes. Then, in the early 1980s, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective put another spin on the genre, positioning players as a group of detectives, working alongside the famous Sherlock Holmes to solve a number of astonishing cases.
In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, up to eight players work cooperatively to solve one of Sherlock Holmes' and Doctor Watson's many cases. Your investigation will take you across London, using a directory to guide you and your team across the game map, searching for clues and speaking to witnesses. Should you ever find yourself unsure of where to go next, you can turn to the local papers for hints at local happenings and the locations at which they occurred. At the end of the game, you and your fellow investigators earn points for the amount of information you uncovered and how quickly you were able to do so, comparing yourselves to the great Holmes.
Jack the Ripper
Included in the new standalone Consulting Detective title, Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures, is a four-scenario campaign centered around the brutal crimes of Jack the Ripper. You and your gang, the Baker Street Irregulars, are called upon to assist in the investigation. By uncovering clues inspired by the facts and testimonies from the real-life Ripper cases, you will strive to catch the vicious criminal. The immense intrigue of this fact-meets-fiction campaign allows for a captivating investigative experience. Enhanced with a bit of thematic atmosphere, in-depth character identities, and some creative gameplay, you can put a whole new spin on the decades-old murder mystery party.
The depth of the Consulting Detective series is enough to draw players in on its own, though by adding ambience, you can send your investigators even further into Holmes' world of mystery, and you don't even have to wait for the party to begin. When you begin planning a Consulting Detective game night, consider capturing your invitees' attention with a thematic invitation. Sure, you could send an e-mail or text message, but nothing quite compares to getting a cryptic note via snail mail, requesting your assistance in the investigation of a seemingly unmotivated murder.
The event itself can also be dressed up with atmospheric elements, from the lighting to the decor. The Victorian Era is broadly known for being grandiose and ornate, though the grittier side reflects a harsher reality, often depicted in Holmes' stories. You may choose to embrace either one of these styles for your event, though there are a few props worth including, regardless. A magnifying glass, for one, is emblematic of the great detective's style, as is a pipe (a fake one will do just fine). In keeping with the theme of the game, you could also save newspapers (if you still subscribe) and lay them around the gaming space. If you want to give the newspapers an aged look, leave them in a sunny spot for a few days before the event and they will likely yellow, giving you an affordable and appropriate prop. Other items you may wish to include are mason jars, milk bottles, a vase full of flowers, a teapot, and feather quills (or just feathers to fake it).
Beyond the aesthetic touches, you can also dress up the space with functional flair. Victorian style place cards with each of your guests' names (or their characters' names—read on) will add an elegant touch. As you play the game, you will likely need to take notes, so filling the space with decorative notepads will give you and your fellow Irregulars a place to record your observations within the theme. A bulletin board on which to place these notes (and the map, if you're careful) will also add a touch of reality to the investigation. Lighting the space can be tricky, because you want to ensure you can see the game without lighting anything on fire. Using lamps off to the side will certainly help achieve a more authentic atmosphere, though using an overhead light with candles spaced around the room will do the trick. Tea lights are a great option, because they are cheap and usually burn out in just a couple of hours—but don't forget to check them at the end of the night anyway. Safety first.
The Baker Street Irregulars
Because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detailed very few of the identities of those who assisted Holmes throughout his years of investigating, you can get creative when addressing your cards or assigning roles to the players in your group. The gameplay of Consulting Detective lends itself to a role-playing sort of style, so before you begin the game, either while planning the event or after the guests arrive, you can create character profiles for the various Irregulars to assume. These characters can have certain traits or styles that inform how each player should act throughout the game. Are they confrontational and forward, or more thoughtful and careful? One character may assume the role of careful notetaker, while another could follow their interest in the happenings around the city, often referring to the day's newspaper. Small touches like these will create an even more comprehensive story, and challenge players to approach the clues in a way they might not have otherwise.
The benefit to planning these characters before the event is that your guests can immerse themselves even further in the narrative by dressing as their characters or bringing appropriate props. Victorian Era styles can be very intricate and difficult to replicate, but even small additions like a bowler hat, a pocket watch, or a cane can bring life to a character.
The Observation of Trifles
There are many ways to bring Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective to life, including those illustrated above and far beyond. You might consider adding food or drink to the event, putting on accents, or acting out certain scenes from the case. Whatever you do to expand and explore the world of Holmes and Watson, we'd love to see it! Share your ideas and your experiences with us on Facebook and Twitter, and follow us for more game night ideas, new announcements, and more.
Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures will be available in stores early next year, so now is the perfect time to start planning your mysterious and immersive game night!